Whether you have a great business idea or not, many entrepreneurs stumble upon the issue of lack of funding. Just like coming up with good business ideas, we need to think outside the box here.
We need to think outside the box when it comes to where we can obtain financing – but also how much money we really need. Many times, we can start a company with very little money an not know it. Many people already have.
Most people figure that if you don’t already have money, how can you start a business? Many large banks don’t fund small start-ups without a track record. If you don’t have an outrageous business idea, it may be hard to get a venture capitalist to even look at you. Then what?
Many of us don’t want to ask friends and family to give us money, but what about people who aren’t our friends? Ha ha ha. That’s funny.
1. People Who are Not Your Friends
No, seriously. There are people who want to invest in other people’s business ideas. They would rather do that than spend the time and effort to start their own company – or they simply want to support entrepreneurship.
Whatever the case may be, there are people out there who are willing to invest a couple hundred bucks (or more) in new start-up ideas. Now, find a bunch of these people, and you can get a good amount of capital to get your business idea off the ground.
Resources like Prosper are making this task easy. They have developed a site where essentially the investors find you. Rates are low and getting started is easy. Now, you can actually get unsecured financing without going through a bank! (Now I feel bad for the banks – they’re losing some great customers.)
Even though you don’t have to go out and look for these investors – you DO need to put your best foot forward when you use “peer-to-peer” marketplaces like Prosper.com. Show people what you’ve got. Give them a great reason to invest with you.
2. The Multi-Benefit Fundraising Strategy
But that’s not the only “out of the box” way to get money for your business. Another alternative is to let people test-drive your service. For example, let’s say you want to open a hair salon.
Let friends, business associates and people in your neighborhood know about your business goal. In order to raise capital, offer to cut or style hair for an insanely cheap price – in other words, make them feel like they are getting more than they pay for.
You may even find investors who like what you’re doing and want to help you with more funding – and people who want to reciprocate your “favor” and send you lots of customers.
Of course, you want people to take you seriously as a business person, so show them you are really doing this thing. Get a business name, print business cards for $10 and set up a way for customers to easily pay by credit card. You can do this without having to get a card reader or anything, and it’s really easy (and secure!).
Use this “test drive” concept for other business services too. Or if your dream business is to sell a product, consider services or information products that you can offer to people that relate to your idea that can act as a temporary fundraising strategy.
3. The “Less Work” Way to Get a Loan that You Can Pay Off Fast
Another option, if you are simply looking for a line of credit for start-up expenses (and maybe you have bad credit) is to get a small unsecured line of credit. Be careful of these offers, however, and read the fine print in the terms and conditions. There usually is a set up fee and annual fee for using these cards. For example, this card offers a $500 unsecured credit line with no credit check – but you pay a $99 set up fee and $49 annual fee. However, if you need money quickly, can pay it off quickly and are in a bind, this may be your best option.
For example, if you can use this option to purchase a lawn mower, leaf blower and rake – and you have 10 customers that will pay $50 each over the next 30 days to mow and blow their yards, you can pay off your loan, cover credit card fees and be $350 in the black – plus you now have equipment you can use for future jobs.